The family of a man who collapsed in the street and died after a confrontation with three teenagers today have called for the youths to be jailed.
Josip Jovanovic, 57, a grandfather-of-five, had lived in Bedford since he moved from his home town of Osijek, in Croatia, in 1999.
Son-in-law Bojan Petrovak, 25, today said that Josip collapsed after he tried to chase after the three teenage boys.
He said: ”He was fishing up the road and they tried to steal his bike. He was running after them and collapsed and fell on the floor because he had a problem with asthma.
”They were trying to take the bike off him but he couldn’t get after them because of his asthma.
”An old lady came to help him but there was nothing anyone could do and he died.”
”He would never usually fight back because he was an old man and not very well.
“A couple of times people have stolen his bike now. He’s lost many bikes while living here in Bedford. The police have the bike, I understand.
“I think these children’s parents should teach them right and wrong. Kids who do this should be put in prison for ten years.
“They should respect older people.”
Josip moved to Bedford in 1999 with two of his daughters but was unemployed due to ill health.
Bojan was speaking at Josip’s one-bedroom flat just half a mile from where he dropped down and died.
Daughter Nedeljka, 30, said: ”These children’s parents should teach them when they are young. Their parents should teach these kids they shouldn’t steal from people.”
Josip’s partner Danuta Ivanicka, 53, from Poland, wept as she paid tribute. The couple have been together for around four years.
She said: ”He was a very good man. He was kind and I loved him very much.
”I would like to get hold of these children who did this to him. He had asthma and couldn’t chase them. I am very angry about this.”
Josip had a third child, Slagana, 38, who lives in Croatia.
A police spokeswoman said the force was working with witness statements to understand exactly what took place on the embankment in Bedford on Wednesday afternoon.
She said: ”The three boys aged 12,13 and 15 are at Greyfriars police station being questioned after a 57 year old man collapsed at the Embankment at the rear of the Borough Hall building.
”We are not treating this as a murder investigation. However, the boys are still in custody in relation to the potential assault on the gentleman.
”The post mortem has found that the man did not die of any injuries from the incident.
”The pathologist has asked for a further test in relation to the gentleman’s heart.”
Witness Camille Hutchings, 32, coffee barista for nearby Costa Coffee was walking home after her shift yesterday when she saw Mr Jovonovic being treated by paramedics.
She said: ”I was walking home and I saw a large fishing net on the other side of the river and could see someone lying down on the floor.
”I just assumed he had collapsed. There were some ambulance men with him, they were standing around him and at the bridge I could see ambulance and police.
”There is a lot of trouble with kids in Bedford but it is lovely here by the Embankment.”